Savannah's Dream - Interview with Tommaso Fiscaletti

When did your "adventure" in the world of photography start?
«I happened to be ten when I first approached photography. It was when my parents, on the occasion of some anniversary, decided to give me a camera, in order to support my early passion for cinema. Then, when I was eighteen, I got a second-hand camera from my uncle, an old Yashica, and so I started my adventure in photography».
Did you attend specific courses?
«Actually, I am self-taught. As soon as I fell in love with photography, I began to study, and I still do so. I needed to experience photography practically, so I started working in a studio in Pesaro, my hometown. There I worked for three years, first as an assistant then as a photographer, dealing with various photography genres: from portraits to still photography, fashion and still life. It has been a great learning experience that provided me with the tools I needed to realise my ideas».
How has your career continued?
«I moved to Milan, where I worked for eight years as a portrait and landscape photographer. However, I am currently living in Cape Town, South Africa, where I have been living for about a year and a half».
Why did you move to South Africa?
«I have always been fascinated by Africa and I felt it was the right place to be and to make a life experience. It is an emerging country with a beautiful nature. Despite the fact that the coexistence of races, cultures and religions has always been a major problem for the country, I think that it is also a fascinating feature».
What are your current projects like?
«Now I am focusing on a project involving a Sangomas sorority: shamans who practice ancestors worship in a township (shanty towns) in Cape Town. I was introduced to this community thanks to a young designer with whom I worked here».
What have you learned from them?
«I was very fascinated by the people I met, and I decided to spend some time with them: my latest project, Between Home and Wisdom, was born this way. It is about telling the existing duality between everyday life within a community and the practice of worship. I tried to convey this duality through portraits and daily life scenes. It is a hybrid project, which lies somewhere between documentary photography and staging, which often is my working method. On the 7th of May 2015, I had my first African exhibition held in the Cape Craft and Design Institute (CCDI), which manages several buildings in the heart of Cape Town».
Let’s talk about Alidem’s photos and let’s start from the series Savannah's Dream. What is the meaning of this dream?
«It is a dream where the ideal of beauty that is often associated with nature is missing. It is partially a conceptual work that aims to highlight the wrong attitude that many times human beings display towards nature. Wooden toys - a buffalo, a giraffe and a zebra bent on themselves - become eloquent symbols of what is happening to nature today, increasingly threatened and contaminated by the presence of human beings. In my photos, I also tried to make the movement of my hand clearly visible to evoke the simple and yet incisive gestures that often damage our environment».
The effect of photo in the photo is very interesting...
«The photographs on the background represent savannah’s beauty, which is fading away. Each image is taped to a support that constantly changes: it is the symbol of the precariousness and the unravelling of something that used to be great and majestic. Some other photos are crumpled or broken, as if the passage of men had broken the dream, leaving only wrecked traces».
May the toys that appear in your photos refer to something else?
«I wanted exactly those precise toys, because they still remind me of moments of my childhood. Today it is not so simple to find them; I have been looking for them for a long time and eventually I got them from some shops, or online».
What about the other Alidem’s photos?
"They are part of two different series, albeit they belong to the same genre. Both are the result of my travelling, but stemmed from a different analysis of the landscape. Essop's store for example, was taken in Cape Town. When I took it, I was struck by the strong ambiguity of the context. In fact, at first I nearly felt like I was in a small US town, rather than in South Africa. This is because it is a type of landscape that perfectly reflects the mix of cultures and traditions that have always characterised the city».
And Kavos # 4?
«Kavos is a small Greek village, close to Corfu, where the nightlife is pretty intense: casinos, discos and pubs populated mostly by English people in the mood for partying and drinking pints of beer. It seems quite the opposite of the peaceful idea that we all have of Greece. A bizarre environment, so interesting that I felt like wandering around at night to capture the town vibe».
How long do you think you will stay in South Africa?
«I do not know, it is a very exciting place for my projects; I think that even if I were to leave, I would continue to come back every so often to work».